I have food memories, and I have sandwich memories. If my head were a filing cabinet I’d need a whole separate file just for sandwich memories. Maybe a whole separate filing cabinet, even. It has taken me about half an hour just to whittle down my selection of photos of bread-based snacks to an appropriate number to share in a short post.
I mean, consider this:
This came close to being the Best Sandwich Ever after a couple of hours of walking back and forth through Dubai International Airport during a six-hour stopover. But it wasn’t.
And I love these Raw Imagination sandwiches – the Club is probably my favourite, but the BLT suits me better as a breakfast/first-meal-of-the-day option, and the Falafel, shown here, is a bit lighter on the palate for a late lunch – but none of them will never come close to being the Best Sandwich Ever.
See, far more than two slices of bread slapped together with some form of filling, for me the humble sandwich represented the little bit of home I got to take with me when I left the house for the day: I had a sandwich (or two) for lunch every day at school for probably about 11 of the 12 years I spent in education, and although for many of those years it was a peanut butter sandwich – day after day – I never ceased to get excited about lunch.
Although I continued making myself sandwiches when I went to uni, they were never quite the same: I used rye bread slices which I do love, but they just aren’t the same as those fluffy crusty loaves we would have at home, and I was sadly too aware of portion sizes and calorie content to slather on an exciting amount of filling. And, of course, there is just something special about food made for you.
Those peanut butter sandwiches were special – a thick layer of smooth, salty Calvé peanut spread, sandwiched between two thick slices of fresh, fluffy, chewy, bread – but there is one sandwich that stands out. And unfortunately my food photos don’t go that far back, so you’ll have to imagine with me.
In our final (or perhaps penultimate) year of school our history class took a school trip to Verdun, site of multiple battles including the murderous Battle of Verdun in the First World War. Alarmingly, one of the standout memories from that school trip is not the visit of the trenches or the rows and rows of white crosses in the cemetery, but the packed lunch my mum made me.
I’m not sure why I got an upgrade from my usual peanut butter on sliced bread, but on this particular occasion I got on the coach with a couple of sausage sandwiches – but I’m not talking about your average greasy, gnarled sausage sitting awkwardly in between two dry sponge-like slabs of bread. Let’s talk about that bread: super fluffy, pillowy Portuguese rolls with an ever-so-slightly hardened crust that leaves flour all over your face with every bite. That bread is perfect for veggie sausages (I suspect they may have been the very excellent Taifun grill sausages), as it is soft and fluffy enough that it doesn’t obliterate the tenderness of the sausage, rounded so it holds a chunky filling in, and just dry enough that it absorbs a touch of moistness from the filling.
You know what else that bread is perfect for? A thick slathering of sun-dried tomato spread. I have no idea what spread my mum used, but I know it was rich and oily, slightly tangy with a touch of sweetness, luxuriously thick but filled with the taste of sunshine. The fluffy roll absorbed enough of the spread that it protected from any oily leakage, but without becoming soggy. It really was the Best Sandwich Ever. No contest. But maybe we can still open a separate file just for peanut butter sandwiches (and burgers, and wraps, and pitas, and open sandwiches)?